Very Good Year
It was late on a Friday afternoon
when Smith College senior Kelsie Hoke contacted the local
River Valley Market and happened to catch the wine buyer
as she was on her way out the door for vacation.
The label for the commemorative
wine features a rendering of College Hall and
a stencil of "Smith College Commencement 2011."
was critical if Hoke’s plan were to go forward. Thanks to that timely phone call,
she will offer her classmates and their families the chance to purchase a special
item of memorabilia: a bottle of wine featuring “Smith College Commencement 2011” on
Before she spoke with Maggie
Rietzel at River Valley Market, Hoke had already identified
a winery in the Finger Lakes region of New York that would
bottle and label a red and a white selection for her. She
had also decided on an image of the college’s Grécourt Gates for the label, and lined up a distributer
to transport the product to Northampton.
“Here was my chance to have something special, unique, limited-edition, high
quality, and chock full of sentimental value made to celebrate Smith,” said Hoke. “I
had Maggie on the phone for a couple of minutes and, voila, we had a retailer.”
Hoke, a history major, developed
her plan after learning that the college had, at times in
the past, served bottles of wine with special labels marking
The idea appealed to Hoke, who
happens to be from a wine region of the country – California’s Napa Valley. She is also a member of a recently chartered
student organization that celebrates Smith’s traditions. That organization, Afternoon
Tea, is developing a cookbook celebrating the college’s unique culinary heritage
with recipes from Smith Dining Services and students’ favorite Northampton-area
Neither Hoke nor Smith is investing
money in the wine project. Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery in
Ovid, New York, and Northampton’s River Valley Market
will profit from the sales. River Valley Market, located on North King Street,
will sell the wine in accordance with the laws governing its purchase.
“A bottle of wine has such significance when it comes to celebrating and remembering
occasions,” said Hoke. “This is just a great opportunity for people to have something
special to celebrate graduation with, and hopefully have a bottle worth keeping.”
The special bottles’ contents will be of high quality, assures Hoke, noting that
Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery recently won the award for “Best Riesling in the New
World” at a competition in Germany.
River Valley Market now has
the bottles available for sale. For buyers who miss
the opportunity to purchase the wine locally, Cayuga Ridge
Estate Winery will ship it directly to a buyer as long as
the state law allows the shipment and the buyer covers the
cost of shipping.
“What is making it work is our belief that the wine is going to sell, so the
winery makes money, the retailer makes money, and we all get Smith wine—so everyone
is happy,” Hoke added.
The limited edition wine is
expected to cost about $15 per bottle, she said.